The Importance of Marriage.
As many readers know, I’m about to get married. Today. Yes after almost 19 years, Mike and I are going to make it official. As my friend Larry Benjamin said to me yesterday – ‘we’ve come a long way.’ Sure there is more to do, but that doesn’t mean we haven’t achieved anything.
When Maryland agree to recognize all lawful marriages – including same sex marriages – from other states, we effectively had marriage equality in Maryland, Mike and I made a conscious decision not to take advantage of the ruling, preferring to wait until we could get married in the state where we lived. Perhaps it was silly, but it made today that much more special knowing that the people of Maryland agreed it was wrong to deny us the right to get married.
But when Maryland passed marriage equality it also made it that much more important that we take advantage of it. The Governor, Lt. Governor, State Attorney General and others lobbied hard to pass this law. They used political capital to get it done. We donated money, went to meetings and fund raisers, brought our daughter with us to show that we were a family in every way except for the ability to get married. The world was watching – maybe not us specifically, but in the general sense – to see what happened once the law passed.
Imagine if after all that effort, just a handful of people took advantage of it. Would states debating the issue point to the apathy among same sex couples toward marriage to defeat future efforts? My friend Elizabeth – a straight, married woman – pointed out that we are at the front of a wave. That same sex couples who marry give positive examples to LGBT kids to look up to.
When we rented the ballroom, we were told we were the first same sex wedding reception the hotel had held. Mind you we live in a blue area of a blue state. One would expect these things to take place around here. But we were/are the first. Sometimes all it takes is that first one to open the gates.
Peel away the legal benefits, ignore the fact that we love each other and want to get married, and forget that we fought to have the right to do it, and it is still important for same sex couples to marry. With each new ceremony, the novelty of a same sex wedding wanes and retreats. With enough ceremonies, people will stop referring to it as ‘gay marriage’ or ‘ same sex marriage’ or even ‘marriage equality.’ That is the ultimate goal, to make it so common that people won’t make a distinction.
Getting married just confirms what Mike and I already knew; in every way that matters, we are just like any other family. It may have taken 19 years to get to this point, but it’s really ‘just another marriage.’ The only difference is it’s ours and not someone else’s. That’s a distinction I hope never changes.